No Stink Bugs,
No Cucumber Beetles,
No Flea Beetles,
And No Insecticide!

Dateline: 23 July 2014

A view over my cucumber bed.
Sweet potatoes in the background.
(click pictures for enlarged views)

This is the first year in four decades of gardening that I have not had any damage from flea beetles, cucumber beetles or stink bugs. It is something akin to a miracle. I have seen a couple of cucumber beetles, but I've not seen a lot of them, and there is no visible damage.

I planted the cukes in plastic.
No weed competition.

I have a theory about why I'm having such a healthy, insect-free garden this year. Two years ago I mineralized my garden. I took a soil test, sent it to a lab, hired a soil mineralization expert to give me a mineral prescription, and I followed through with the application of the prescribed minerals.

I explain all of this in The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners. But when I was writing the book, I had yet to see if the minerals would make a difference in my garden. Well, I think I'm seeing it now.

A proper balance of minerals is supposed to result in healthy plants, more nutritious food, and significantly less insect damage

I'm a believer.

Squash blossoms in the morning.
Sans the usual infestation of beetles.

I have started to make a YouTube video about soil mineralization. It will be an introduction to the subject.  I'll  read from the chapter in my book, while showing pictures from my garden. 

I also plan to put together a Part 2 to the Four-Day Carrots video I recently posted to YouTube. I'll show how I thin the tri-plantings, answer some questions that have come in, and I'll show the carrot bed at 3 weeks.

Stay tuned.


vdeal said...

Garden looks great Herrick. I wanted to remineralize last fall but didn't get too it, maybe this fall. Bugs haven't been too bad this year, a few Colorado potato beetles and some Japanese beetles and a bit of anthracnose. Still pretty decent all in all. Have you ever tried growing your cukes up a trellis? I do that and save some space.

Herrick Kimball said...

I have the Jap beetles on my grapes and raspberries. A few Colorado potato beetles eventually showed up, but not many. Maybe it's not the minerals. Maybe it's something else. One never knows for certain. But if it's not mineralization it's quite a coincidence.

I've grown cukes for years on my T-post trellis spans. But I tried some bush cukes this year because I was doing the Tom Doyle Plant & Pick black plastic idea. Thus far, I like them. We ate our first cucumbers this morning.

Reformation Acres said...

This is SO good to hear! We're planning on soil sampling/remineralizing and hoping it helps not only increase the nutrient density of our vegetables, but will cut down on pests & disease. It's good to know there is hope! Glad things are going so well for you!

Bill said...

Last year our spring brassicas were decimated by harlequin bugs, but this year we didn't have any. Not one.

On the other hand, we had no Japanese beetles last year and they're in force this year. And we've had more Colorado Potato beetles than we've ever had.

Herrick Kimball said...

Reformation Acres—
I'm glad to know my experience has inspired you. My whole reason for remineralizing was to increase the nutritive value of the food.I'm persuaded that mineral deficient foods are a cause of many physical ailments. And plant-derived minerals are more bioavailable to the body than mineral supplements in pill form.

The benefit of less insect damage is just a bonus.

Putting the minerals on my garden was simple to do and I couldn't help but wonder if it would really make a difference. But I'm now encouraged by the results.A friend of ours who is a naturopath told me my salad greens were sweet and that is an indication of higher nutritive value.

Insects must have up and down population cycles. It will be interesting to see what the situation with insects will be in my garden next year. Check out Bulls-Eye Bioinsecticide for the potato beetles. I have a friend who uses it and says it works great. Organic-approved, I believe.

SharonR said...

How does one go about hiring a soil mineralization expert? I've never even heard of that occupation. I suppose I'd start at the county extension office?

CHazzercise said...

Hey Herrick,
Greetings from Texas. I've had a relatively pest free year, too, thankfully, though my onions (and a neighbor's a few miles away) had a bad time with either bacterial or fungal rot. I've been amazed to find out how few gardeners, even serious gardeners, get a soil report. People either just heap on compost or triple 13, depending on their persuasions, and figure its all good. I live in an area where it is somewhat difficult to find garden lime as the soil tends to be 6-7 ph. I had to add 50 lbs per 1000 sq ft and 40 lbs of gypsum due to calcium depletion after the results of my test and every garden store I talked to didn't really source lime. I know that probably sounds crazy in the east. Over and over again proprietors would tell me "its not needed in this area" or something similar. Good example of "group think..." My garden is on land that has been pastured and hayed for multiple generations. Plants suck nutrients up and sometimes need more than just humus. Talk about money well spent.

m0j0d17 said...

Less than 100 miles from you. Bug population about the same as you reported. Garden going well.

Anonymous said...

SharonR - visit for leads to an analyst in your area.

Herrick Kimball said...

Good link.

My garden idea book has a chapter introducing the fundamentals of soil remineralization. I am in the process of making a YouTube movie that will do the same. Stay tuned.

Clinton Johnson said...


The area around me has been decimated by squash vine borer in the past... I happen to think the polar vortex of -20°F is what killed them off, because this year there have yet to be any of them in the garden! Just my 2cents...

I'm going to have to buy your book some day... but oh so many things vying for my $$'s.


Clinton Johnson said...


Last thursday I pulled 6 of those stinking squash bug grubs out of my zuchini plant at the base, then I pulled off 6 branches and each one had a grub in it... the next day my plan was dead and was subsequently run over by my truck numerous times on the driveway before being disposed of.

Fortunately, I saw this coming... I have more squash plants coming up that were too small to be messed with that will soon be producing fruit... err, vegetables.